QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (YA Fantasy) REVISED AGAIN = )

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
CoachMT
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QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (YA Fantasy) REVISED AGAIN = )

Post by CoachMT » February 16th, 2010, 10:22 am

Revision on page 2 of posts, please have a look at that one.
Dear Prospective Agent,

Jenni Kershaw is an ordinary eighth grader stuck in an ordinary life and she’s extraordinarily tired of it! Her break from the ordinary comes when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with sack lunches, mp3 players, and their wits, Jenni and her classmates unknowingly enter another world.

Here plants must be asked before picking their fruit, and some of the locals think kid shish kebab would be a tasty treat— but at least the batteries in their players don’t ever run out!

The group sets out to explore and seek a way back home, but is torn apart when they begin to transform into the various beings and creatures from this world, known as Mother. Jenni’s frustrations escalate when she appears to be the only one not undergoing any changes, but she soon finds herself to be the least ordinary of them all.

When a way back to Earth is presented to them, many find that they can never truly go back.

A Measure of Disorder is a story of fantasy that explores how a bunch of normal kids deal with the perils, adventure, and changes this new world and its inhabitants throw at them. The manuscript is finished at just under 99,000 words, which, though longer than some books in this market, test readers — both teens and adults — have found pacey and enthralling. I have written it as the first in a series and have begun work on the second book.

I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ve earned a living the past twenty years or so in the printing and graphics industries, as well as writing ad copy and some editing. I’ve also coached boys and girls in youth soccer for over fifteen years.

I thank you for your time and look forward to any input you might have to offer!

--------------------------------------
I'm new to these boards. You folks seem to have a great resource going here! I hope that I can contribute as well as receive feedback for my own posting. My current "newb-ness" prevented me from commenting at this time to any of the previous posts. Though I have written on and off for many years, this is my first novel and my first foray into the publishing world. After receiving a few form rejections to my initial queries, I realized that I needed some help. This query has been much revised since my first submissions, but I know that it still needs more input and work. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have!

CoachMT
Last edited by CoachMT on February 20th, 2010, 9:36 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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taylormillgirl
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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG/YA Fantasy)

Post by taylormillgirl » February 16th, 2010, 10:44 am

CoachMT wrote:Dear Prospective Agent,

Jenni Kershaw is an ordinary eighth grader stuck in an ordinary life and she’s extraordinarily tired of it! Her break from the ordinary comes when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with sack lunches, mp3 players, and their wits, Jenni and her classmates unknowingly enter another world. I like this.

Here plants must be asked before picking their fruit, and some of the locals think kid shish kebab would be a tasty treat— but at least the batteries in their players don’t ever run out! I don't like this; it's awkward.

The group sets out to explore and seek a way back home, but is torn apart when they begin to transform into the various beings and creatures from this world, known as Mother. Jenni’s frustrations escalate when she appears to be the only one not undergoing any changes, but she soon finds herself to be the least ordinary of them all. Can you be more specific? Show, don't tell.

When a way back to Earth is presented to them, many find that they can never truly go back. Major passive voice here.

A Measure of Disorder Put this in all caps.is a story of fantasy that explores how a bunch of normal kids deal with the perils, adventure, and changes this new world and its inhabitants throw at them. This sounds awkward to my ears. The manuscript is finished at just under 99,000 words, which, though longer than some books in this market, test readers — both teens and adults — have found pacey and enthralling. I'd strike these last 2 sentences. Your test readers could be your friends and family for all I know. I have written it as the first in a series and have begun work on the second book.

I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ve earned a living the past twenty years or so in the printing and graphics industries, as well as writing ad copy and some editing. I’ve also coached boys and girls in youth soccer for over fifteen years. I'd strike this last sentense.

You need to choose a genre for your book. MG and YA are worlds apart! Remember, too, that teens tend to "read up", so a book about an 8th grader might not appeal to high school students. I obviously haven't read your book, but it sounds more MG to me, although quite long for that genre. Good luck to you!

I thank you for your time and look forward to any input you might have to offer!

--------------------------------------
I'm new to these boards. You folks seem to have a great resource going here! I hope that I can contribute as well as receive feedback for my own posting. My current "newb-ness" prevented me from commenting at this time to any of the previous posts. Though I have written on and off for many years, this is my first novel and my first foray into the publishing world. After receiving a few form rejections to my initial queries, I realized that I needed some help. This query has been much revised since my first submissions, but I know that it still needs more input and work. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have!

CoachMT
Author of hot & humorous romances, debut novel coming in 2012 from Sourcebooks!
http://macybeckett.com/

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG/YA Fantasy)

Post by CoachMT » February 16th, 2010, 6:27 pm

Taylor, thank you very much for your thoughts. Regarding the age group, I'm at a loss as to what it really is. Most of the YA that I've seen seems to deal with more mature (sexual/relationship) matters than I have in my story, yet the Middle Grade stories I've seen are, well, younger in ideas than what I've written. Maybe I just haven't seen enough Middle Grade. Also, my intent is to have the characters grow older in subsequent books, but I'm probably getting ahead of myself ; )

Anyone else have anything to add? I'll work on revising this in the mean time.

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG/YA Fantasy)

Post by CC13 » February 16th, 2010, 10:28 pm

CoachMT wrote:Dear Prospective Agent,

Jenni Kershaw is an ordinary eighth grader stuck in an ordinary life and she’s extraordinarily tired of it!If you lead with an exclamation here, an agent might think you have a lot of them in your ms, which is sort of frowned upon. Apparently, there's some rule that like, 3 or 4 exclamation points (not including dialog) are "okay". Her break from the ordinary comes when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with sack lunches, mp3 players, and their wits, Jenni and her classmates unknowingly enter another world.how? Where? Huh? Maybe a line of explanation: enter another world as soon as they step foot on the bus." as an example (and a lame one I might ad :P)

Here plants must be asked before picking their fruit, what? I'm lost now.and some of the locals think kid shish kebab would be a tasty treat— but at least the batteries in their players don’t ever run out!Ack, another one! And this paragraph doesn't do anything for me.

The group sets out to explore and seek a way back home,Why? What's the conflict other than being lost? Wouldn't they want to explore first? but is torn apart when they begin to transform into the various beings and creatures from this world, known as Mother. Jenni’s frustrations escalate when she appears to be the only one not undergoing any changes, but she soon finds herself to be the least ordinary of them all.

When a way back to Earth is presented to them, many find that they can never truly go back.Why? And this is all a little passive.

A Measure of Disorder is a story of fantasy that explores how a bunch of normal kids deal with the perils, adventure, and changes this new world and its inhabitants throw at them. The manuscript is finished at just under 99,000 words, which, though longer than some books in this market, test readers — both teens and adults — have found pacey and enthralling.I have written it as the first in a series and have begun work on the second book.<----only put this line if the agency's website/agent requests to know such info.

I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ve earned a living the past twenty years or so in the printing and graphics industries, as well as writing ad copy and some editingif you can't mention specifics, don't mention.. I’ve also coached boys and girls in youth soccer for over fifteen years.not relevant, even if you've been around kids for a long time, doesn't mean you're qualified to write a kids book.

--------------------------------------
I'm new to these boards. You folks seem to have a great resource going here! I hope that I can contribute as well as receive feedback for my own posting. My current "newb-ness" prevented me from commenting at this time to any of the previous posts. Though I have written on and off for many years, this is my first novel and my first foray into the publishing world. After receiving a few form rejections to my initial queries, I realized that I needed some help. This query has been much revised since my first submissions, but I know that it still needs more input and work. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have!

CoachMT

Hope I helped in some way! Good luck! These queries are tough suckers.

CoachMT
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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) Vastly REVISED

Post by CoachMT » February 17th, 2010, 10:36 am

REVISION ************

Dear Prospective Agent,

Jenni Kershaw is an ordinary eighth grader stuck in an ordinary life and she’s extraordinarily tired of it. Her break from the ordinary comes when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with only notebooks, mp3 players, and their wits, Jenni and her classmates are unknowingly transported to another world.

The group is aided by a little gnomish fellow named Crank, who has run away from home. Together they set out to find a city of knowledge and learning in hopes of finding a way back to Earth. During the journey, however, Jenni and the rest of the class are slowly changed into creatures from this new world, known as Mother. Jenni becomes something exceedingly rare: a shapeshifter.

Now, all Jenni has to do is learn how to use her abilities and save the world from some of her classmates, who have been deceived by a centuries-old villain. The same villain who happens to be the only other shapeshifter known to exist. High school will be a breeze — if she lives long enough to enroll, that is.

Ordinary? No way.

A MEASURE OF DISORDER is a story of fantasy that explores how a bunch of normal kids cope with the perils and heartaches this new world presents. The manuscript is finished at 97,000 words and is ready for your perusal.

I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ve earned a living the past twenty years or so in the printing and graphics industries in Montana.

I thank you for your time and look forward to any input you might have to offer!

---------------------------------------
Okay, so thanks again for the advice. There are way too many pages and blogs out there that state the way to write a query is to think of the blurb on the back of the book. I see now that you have to get much further into the story than a teaser like that will allow. Secondly, I had put the bit about the test readers in there to let an agent know that I'm aware the word count is high, but the book's pace is good— at least according to all the feedback I've received. What do you guys think? Is the length an automatic rejection?
Last edited by CoachMT on February 19th, 2010, 2:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) Vastly REVISED

Post by CoachMT » February 18th, 2010, 9:00 am

No comments on the new one above? So bad you don't know where to start? = )

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) Vastly REVISED

Post by Wandaduplooy » February 18th, 2010, 9:09 am

I love the concept and the "torn apart" part, I would leave out. I have images of plants tearing children to pieces when I read it, but it could be only me. Passive voice- I believe it has a place in writing - it conveys a mood that active voice cannot.

I am also struggling with my own query and would love some feedback from you.

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) Vastly REVISED

Post by shadow » February 18th, 2010, 9:11 am

Let me try!!! No I have not read your previous queries so keep that in mind! Oh and I also have my own query around now so you can critique it if you like. JK.

Dear Prospective Agent,

Jenni Kershaw is an ordinary If she is so ordinary why would I want to read about her?eighth grader stuck in an ordinaryOrdinary again here. Take it out! I mean it. life and she’s extraordinarily Here it goes again. I think you need to try to create a better hook. tired of it. Her break from the ordinary Oh...Maybe you can substitue the ordinary with another word? Use the thesaurus prehaps because I am starting to think that everything here is too ordinary for me JK. comes when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with only notebooks, mp3 players, and their wits, Jenni and her classmates are unknowingly transported to another world. How?? Let the plot show through!

The group is aided by a little gnomish fellow named Crank, who has run away from home. Together they set out to find a city of knowledge and learning in hopes of finding a way back to Earth.That sentence is awkward During the journey, however, Jenni and the rest of the class are slowly changed into creatures from this new world, known as Mother. They turn into creatures called mother??Jenni becomes something exceedingly rare: a shapeshifter. I thought you said they turn into a creature called mother.

Now, all Jenni has to do is learn how to use her abilities and save the world from some of her classmates, who have been deceived by a centuries-old villain. The same villain who happens to be the only other shapeshifter known to exist. High school will be a breeze — if she lives long enough to enroll, that is.I like the last sentence it could work as a query hook. Like so: High school will be a breeze for Jenni, if she lives long enough to enrol, that is. Then start your description.

Ordinary? No way. Take that out! The agent will know if it is not ORDINARY!

A MEASURE OF DISORDER is a story of fantasy that explores how a bunch of normal kids cope with the perils and heartaches this new world presents. Don't talk about your story! Show it through the query!The manuscript is finished Take out finished. If it wasn't finished you wouldn't be sending a query. at 98,000 words and is ready for your perusal. Is it YA??

I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ve earned a living the past twenty years or so in the printing and graphics industries in Montana.

I thank you for your time and look forward to any input you might have to offer!

---------------------------------------
Okay, so thanks again for the advice. There are way too many pages and blogs out there that state the way to write a query is to think of the blurb on the back of the book. I see now that you have to get much further into the story than a teaser like that will allow. Secondly, I had put the bit about the test readers in there to let an agent know that I'm aware the word count is high, but the book's pace is good— at least according to all the feedback I've received. What do you guys think? Is the length an automatic rejection?

Take my advice or leave it! I apologize if I came off to harsh but the whole point of me spending time on critiquing the query is so that it will be better and you will be agented! Have a great day and I know you will get it!

Shadow
All things writing, visit my blog http://arielemerald.blogspot.com/

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) Vastly REVISED

Post by CoachMT » February 19th, 2010, 9:02 am

@ Shadow: the world is called Mother, not the creatures. The last line "Ordinary? No way." was meant to tie back in to Jenni thinking she is ordinary, not a comment about the book. I'll have another look at this.

Any other suggestions out there?

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) Vastly REVISED

Post by Tara Queries » February 19th, 2010, 2:41 pm

Dear Prospective Agent,

Jenni Kershaw is an ordinary eighth grader stuck in an ordinary life and she’s extraordinarily tired of it! I like the parallel use of "ordinary" here, but I might pop a comma in here before the "and"...your choice. I would also cut the exclamation marks.Her break from the ordinary comes Things couldn't get much duller when her science class goes on a their spring/fallfield tripto...maybe name their intended, hopefully boring location so that the next sentence is a real contrast.[color]Armed with sack lunches, mp3 players, and their wits, Jenni and her classmates get a serious break from the ordinary when they[/color]unknowingly enters another world known as "Mother."

Here In this strange world,plants must be asked before picking their fruit, and some of the locals think kid shish kebab would be a tasty treat— but at least the batteries in their players don’t ever run out!, and...add another vignet about the world here

The group Jenni and her friendssets out to explore and seek finda way back home, but is their group istorn apart when they each begin to transform into the various beings and creatures from this world known as Mother. Jenni’s frustrations escalate when she appears to be the only one not undergoing any changes, but she soon finds herself to be the least ordinary of them all.Hm...I like this idea, but I'm not sure how to reword it. Maybe, Luckily - or not - Jennie appears to be the only one not undergoing the changes.Then, maybe add a sentence about how this actually makes her extraordinary, and what her exceptional nature can do to help her and her friends.

When a way back to Earth is presented to them, many find that they can never truly go back.I'd cut this and end the previous paragraph with a final sentence about the consequences - good or bad - of Jenni's extraordinary non-transformation.

A Measure of Disorder is a story of fantasy that explores how a bunch of normal kids deal with the perils, adventure, and changes this new world and its inhabitants throw at them. The manuscript is finished at just under 99,000 words, which, though longer than some books in this market, test readers — both teens and adults — have found pacey and enthralling. I have written it as the first in a series and have begun work on the second book.

I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ve earned a living the past twenty years or so in the printing and graphics industries, as well as writing ad copy and some editing. I’ve also coached boys and girls in youth soccer for over fifteen years.

I thank you for your time and look forward to any input you might have to offer!

--------------------------------------
I'm new to these boards. You folks seem to have a great resource going here! I hope that I can contribute as well as receive feedback for my own posting. My current "newb-ness" prevented me from commenting at this time to any of the previous posts. Though I have written on and off for many years, this is my first novel and my first foray into the publishing world. After receiving a few form rejections to my initial queries, I realized that I needed some help. This query has been much revised since my first submissions, but I know that it still needs more input and work. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have!

CoachMT[/quote]

CoachMT
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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) Vastly REVISED

Post by CoachMT » February 19th, 2010, 2:55 pm

REVISED Again! Thanks for the input so far!

Dear Prospective Agent,

Jenni Kershaw is an ordinary eighth grader stuck in an ordinary life, and she’s extraordinarily tired of it. All that changes when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with only their notebooks, mp3 players, and wits, Jenni and her classmates are unknowingly transported to another world, known as Mother.

The group is aided there by a little gnomish fellow named Crank, who has run away from home. Together they set out to find a city of knowledge and learning in hopes of discovering a way back to Earth. During the journey, however, Jenni and the rest of the class are slowly transformed into various creatures from this new world. Jenni becomes something exceedingly rare: a shapeshifter.

Now, all Jenni has to do is learn how to use her abilities, then save the world from some of her classmates, who have been deceived by a centuries-old villain. The same villain who happens to be the only other shapeshifter known to exist. High school will be a breeze — if she lives long enough to enroll, that is.

A MEASURE OF DISORDER is a young adult story of fantasy that explores how a bunch of normal kids maintain their humanity when faced with becoming something inhuman. The manuscript is just under 97,000 words and ready for your perusal.

I studied Creative Writing and Literature at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I’ve earned a living the past twenty years or so in the printing and graphics industries in Montana.

I thank you for your time and look forward to any input you might have to offer!
Last edited by CoachMT on February 20th, 2010, 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) REVISED AGAIN = )

Post by CoachMT » February 20th, 2010, 10:52 am

Any opinions on the latest version above?

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) REVISED AGAIN = )

Post by Lunetta22 » February 20th, 2010, 12:01 pm

It is definitely more clear, and I like the plot. I like that she needs to save the world from some of her classmates. But my concern is the word count. Isn't 97,000 words too long for middle grade? Is there any chance that this is actually Young Adult? (May be long for YA even.)

Edit: I just saw the other people voiced concerns about the word count. I don't think Young Adult necessarily has to have sexual tension to be considered young adult. Eigth Grade may be a bit young for Young Adult, but maybe you could up the age just a little bit? I just can't see my 9 year old nephew reading a book that is 97,000 words.

Just some thoughts...I like the premise a lot. :)

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (MG Fantasy) REVISED AGAIN = )

Post by CoachMT » February 20th, 2010, 2:19 pm

Thank you, yes, I have been editing/hacking/slashing lately to get the count down. My hope is to do more books and the characters would obviously get older as I went along, becoming more YA aged I guess. My readers so far have said that they didn't notice it being long when they read it, so I think the pace is good, which is more important than count. But we'll see how it goes. Thanks again for your thoughts!

Edit** - Well after doing some more research today, it should be classified as YA, not Middle Grade. It's young YA, so to speak, but still fits best in that category. Thanks again to all of you who have offered suggestions and advice!

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Re: QUERY: A Measure of Disorder (YA Fantasy) REVISED AGAIN = )

Post by jordynface » February 20th, 2010, 10:14 pm

I'm not so good at the line-by-line, but some suggestions/observations:

1. I'd start out with a stronger opening sentence/paragraph. Things get REALLY EXCITING when the class is whisked off to Mother and if you can find a way to open with that (instead of how normal and ordinary the girl is) that would be a lot stronger I think.
2. WHY are they brought to this other planet? It seems that the action/conflict comes from her other classmates AFTER they're brought to this new planet. I'm guessing this isn't quite how it is in the book, so I'd work on that.
3. Again, I think (in the third paragraph) you have too much of an emphasis on these kids being "normal" -- I think it would work just as well (possibly stronger) to just call them "human," not normal.
4. WORDCOUNTOMG. That is waaaayyy long for MG and pretty long for YA too (though I'm not sure what the glass ceiling is on scifi/fantasy). Any way you could get rid of words? (And PS. Since it's 8th grade, you could probably call it either YA or MG depending on which works better for you.)

Hope I've helped.

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